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Ultimate Guide to Walkability Assessment Tools

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We get asked asked a lot about how we "measure up" to other walkability tools in the market. As data geeks, we *really* LOVE answering this question. But rather than keep that passion to ourselves, today we are sharing our Ultimate Guide to Walkability Tools with you! We compiled a list of the most popular and useful tools out there, and evaluated them based on various factors to help you decide which walkability assessment tool is right for your development project, neighborhood, or city. Check out your Ultimate Guide & find out how to score your score!

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Ultimate Guide to Walkability Assessment Tools

  1. 1. The Ultimate Guide to Walkability Assessment Tools P R E S E N T E D B Y S T A T E O F P L A C E 1
  2. 2. Contents 1 2 3 - 4 5 - 2 5 2 6 - 2 9 3 0 3 1 3 2 I N T R O D U C T I O N Q U E S T I O N S T O A S K A T T R I B U T E S T O A S S E S S T O O L S C O M P A R I S O N S F I N A L A S S E S S M E N T S O U R C E S C O N T A C T U S
  3. 3. Introduction "Walkabilityisameasureoftheeffectivenessofcommunitydesigninpromoting walkingandbicyclingasalternativestodrivingcarstoreachshopping,schools,and othercommondestinations.TheCentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention(CDC), theWorldHealthOrganization(WHO),andotherhealthorganizationsadvocate increasingthewalkabilityofcommunitiestopromotefitness,combatobesity,and enhancesustainability."-Esri(1*) Thepurposeofthis guide istocompare theseseven well-knownwalkability assessmenttoolstohelpyouchoosetheonethatworksbestforyou!  WalkScore,StateofPlace,WalcInstitute'sWalkingAuditSurveyTool, Walkonomics,AARPLivabilityIndex, CDC'sHealthierWorksiteInitiative WalkabilityAuditTool,andMAPS-MiniSurvey. 1 There are five levels of "needs" that influence walkability: Pleasurability, Comfort, Safety, Accessibility, & Feasibility (2) *(1) refers to the source's citation number; please see reference list on last page of the guide
  4. 4. "Questions to Ask" What kind of data is being collected? How accurate a measure is it of built environment quality/features that impact actual walking rates? Can it be used as a benchmark/is it standardizable? Does it help you understand why or why not an area is walkable? Can it be used to measure the walkability of proposed projects? Does it help you identify the best changes to make to increase walkability? Does it help you implement changes to increase walkability? How much does it cost? What kind of support does it offer? Below are nine key questions you should ask when evaluating walkability assessment tools: 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
  5. 5. Attributes to Assess 3 Urban design features and concepts measured: Features that the tool creators consider contributors to a walkable environment. Scale of Urban Design: Macro: statistical data and/or high-level data typically collected via GIS (e.g., land uses) OR Micro: detailed, small- scale features of built environment (e.g., benches). Number of Data Points: The number of built environment features or concepts assessed by the tool. Data Sources: First-hand (e.g., in-person, crowdsourced, field observations) vs. Second-data collection (e.g., big data, census) Data Type: Objective/reliable (raters are trained to assess data in the same way; data is not subject to interpretation) OR Subjective Who Collects: Company or general public Collection Time: Time required to collect the data. Accuracy: How accurate/valid is the measure; is it tied to walking rates and/or features empirically tied to walking Below are key attributes you should assess to help you evaluate the nine criteria:
  6. 6. Attributes to Assess (cont.) 4 Data Collection Method/Scoring: How data is obtained/processed Standardizable: Repeatable results are obtainable. National/International Benchmarking Capacity: Can be used to benchmark the differences in walkability between two or more geographic locations. Appropriate Geographic Areas: In which geographic conditions does the tool work the best. Diagnostic Ability: Scoring process allows users to understand their score/identifies why or why not a place is walkable Forecasting Walkability: Can it measure future walkability (for proposed built environment changes). Calculates Economic ROI of Walkability Improvements: Can it estimate the economic impact of changes in built environment. Ability to Involve Community: Can the tool be used to engage community and residents Cost: How much it costs to use the tool. Support: Who is there to help with questions.
  7. 7. Walk Score 5 Urban design features and concepts measured: Walk times to amenities, Population Density, Block Length, Intersection Density (3)  Scale of Urban Design: Macro Number of Data Points(3) : 4 Data Sources: Big Data (aggregated using GIS) Data Type: Objective/Reliable Who Collects: Walk Score Collection Time: N/A Accuracy: Studies show Walk Score is a good measure of walkability in terms of density of amenities (8), but Walk Score tends to overestimate the walkability of high access, low-income communities (22), and misses certain variables likely to influence a person to walk, such as crime, aesthetics or natural barriers. In other words, Walk Score is not appropriate to assess the walkability of areas with relatively low walkability (under 70 Walk Score) or areas with median incomes less than 50% that of the national median income (8, 22) 3
  8. 8. Walk Score (cont.) 6 Data Collection Method/Scoring: Data is gathered from Google, Education.com, Open Street Maps, the U.S. Census, Localeze, and places added by the Walk Score user community. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities, and it measures pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density. A score from 0-100 is assigned. (3)  Standardizable: Yes National/International Benchmarking Capacity: Can serve to benchmark the differences in walkability between various geographic locations. Scores are publicly available nationwide. (8) Appropriate Geographic Areas: Relatively walkable urban and suburban areas; Limited utility for less walkable suburban areas, rural areas, and low-income areas. Diagnostic Ability: No
  9. 9. Walk Score (cont.) 7 Forecasting Walkability: No, but at extra cost, offers custom Data Services that offer "Predictive Analysis": Walk Score analyzes an area and a client's proposed changes to determine the likely impact on the Walk Score for the specific location and surrounding area. (4) Calculates Economic ROI of Walkability Improvements: No Ability to Involve Community: No Cost: The tool outputs Walk Scores of individual streets (one at a time) for free. Users must pay to access Walk Score data in bulk or to integrate Walk Scores into other websites. The following paid subscriptions are available: - Widgets and APIs for websites: Free, Premuim ($100/month), Enterprise (Custom cost) (5) - Data Services: starts at $500 and increases depending on volume and the nature of the work (e.g., $10K for custom Walk Scores for 270 neighborhoods (covering 1500 blocks)). Support: - Free services: Contact form on website - Paid Services: Team Representative
  10. 10. State of Place 8 Urban design features and concepts measured: Sidewalk width, Crosswalks, Street trees, Amenities/Land Uses, Graffiti,  Litter, Bike lanes, Buffers, Shading, Curb Cuts, Street Furniture, Parking, Signals, Signage & MORE...(7) Scale of Urban Design: Macro & Micro Number of Data Points: 290 (6) Data Sources: First-hand data (collected by raters) Data Type: Objective/Reliable Who Collects: State of Place team or trained data collectors Collection Time: 20-25 minutes per block Accuracy: The State of Place Index is based on an objective audit tool known as the Irvine Minnesota Inventory (IMI). It was developed by a team of researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and tested for reliability with help from researchers at the University of Minnesota. The IMI is an objective measure of the built environment features that impact physical activity and recreational walking. (9) State of Place has 1.7M data points and its algorithm gets smarter and more accurate as the database grows. (23)
  11. 11. State of Place (cont.) 9 Data Collection Method/Scoring: Data is gathered by trained data collectors using an app. The proprietary algorithm then aggregates the 290 data points into an index from 0-100 that indicates how walkable – convenient, safe, comfortable, and pleasurable – a block, group of blocks, or neighborhood is. The State of Place Index is broken down into ten sub-indices that measure ten urban design dimensions: Form, Density, Connectivity, Proximity, Parks & Public Spaces, Recreational Facilities, Ped & Bike Amenities, Traffic Safety, Personal Safety, Aesthetics. Not all 290 measures be present to obtain a score of 100. (10) Standardizable: Yes National/International Benchmarking Capacity: State of Place is a standardizable measure of walkability and can be used to benchmark walkability. The highest score is determined by the highest observed score in the database of nearly two million data points across 200 cities nation-wide. Scores are available for limited geographies through a subscription service. (9)
  12. 12. State of Place (cont.) 1 0 Appropriate Geographic Areas: All. The IMI audit tool upon which the State of Place Index is based was designed to be used across a wide-range of areas, including urban, rural, exurban and rural areas; low, medium, and high-income neighborhoods; residential, mixed-use, and commercial areas; nationally and internationally developed and developing countries. Not appropriate for underdeveloped nations. (23) Diagnostic Ability: Yes Forecasting Walkability: Yes. Users can run multiple scenario analyses to quantify how a development project would increase the Index and also identify proposals with the biggest impact on walkability and economic value. (7 Calculates Economic ROI of Walkability Improvements: Yes. Users can forecast the estimated economic premiums of their proposed projects, including retail, residential, and office rents as well as retail revenues and residential for-sale values. (7)
  13. 13. State of Place (cont.) Ability to Involve Community: Yes Cost: Monthly subscriptions from $2K/month or fixed-fee project- based subscriptions, which average about $25K per engagement, depending on the number of blocks assessed and/or number of additional custom reports. Support: Dedicated Customer Support Manager 1 1
  14. 14.  Walc Institute's Walking Audit Survey Tool Urban design features and concepts measured: Comfort, Safety, Behaviors of pedestrians & vehicles, Sidewalks, Bike lanes, Vehicle Travel Lanes, Driveways, Parking, Intersections, Crossings, Signals, ADA Compliance, Lighting, Street Furniture, Landscaping, Land use, Signage (20) Scale of Urban Design: Micro Number of Data Points: 68 (20) Data Sources: First-hand data (collected by raters) Data Type: Subjective Who Collects: Anyone who wants to (20 Collection Time: 60-90 minutes per block (20) Accuracy: The Walking Audit Survey tool was developed by the Walc Institute, the EPA, the Project for Public Spaces, and AECOM. The workbook guides community members and leaders through organizing a walkability workshop, conducting a walking audit, and documenting findings. The guide includes a facilitator's guide, presentation slides, a collection of tools, and a walking audit  1 2
  15. 15. Walc Institute's Walking Audit Survey Tool (cont.) Accuracy, cont.: survey tool. The goal of the survey legend is to document your response to the built environment so that the community and its leaders can decide what changes should be made to improve their area. (20) While the workbook is very thorough, there are no scores assigned to the features, so it would be difficult to assess the accuracy or reliability of each person's individual notes. Data Collection Method/Scoring: Data is gathered by a trained or untrained collectors in the community with paper/pencil. The collector sketches the intersection and street, and s/he takes notes as to how safe or comfortable s/he feels on block. The collector then assesses the built environment on the block by marking Needs Improvement, Adequate, or High Quality for the features listed (e.g. sidewalk width, land maintenance, signal type, etc.). No points are awarded; no overall score is assigned. (20) Standardizable: No 1 3
  16. 16. Walc Institute's Walking Audit Survey Tool (cont.) National/International Benchmarking Capacity: Because there are no scores assigned, training is not mandatory for data collection, and the collectors are encouraged to change the tool to fit their needs (20), it would be very difficult to compare results of the audit to various geographical areas. Data collected is not publicly available. Appropriate Geographic Areas: Various Diagnostic Ability: Yes Forecasting Walkability: No Calculates Economic ROI of Walkability Improvements: No Ability to Involve Community: Yes Cost: Free for community to implement; paid consulting/advisory services available Support: Contact form on website 1 4
  17. 17. Walkonomics Urban design features and concepts measured: Road safety, Easy to cross, Sidewalks, Hilliness, Navigation, Fear of crime, Smart and beautiful, Fun and relaxing  (14) Scale of Urban Design: Macro & Micro Number of Data Points: 8 (14) Data Sources: First-hand data (collected by raters) & Big Data Data Type: Objective & Subjective Who Collects: Walkonomics and anyone who wants to (14) Collection Time: About 10 minutes per block when crowdsourcing data Accuracy: Walkonomics' rating system is based on existing research of factors that make a street walkable, and the key factors were combined into eight categories. (13) If no data exists for a particular category on a street, then an average rating of 2.5 is assigned. As there is also no auditing of the crowdsourced data, its reliability and accuracy cannot be determined. (14) 1 5
  18. 18. Walkonomics (cont.) Data Collection Method/Scoring: Data is gathered from open data from government sources, OpenStreetMap, and scores are inputted by anyone with access to the website. Each category is rated from 1- 5 stars and the categories are averaged to rate overall street walkability from 1-5 stars. (14) Standardizable: No National/International Benchmarking Capacity: Because there is no training or auditing of crowdsourced walkability scores, it would be difficult to compare scores even from street to street. It's also not clear exactly what open source data is being used, which is important when deciding how comparable the data could be between neighboring cities. Scores collected are publicly available. Appropriate Geographic Areas: Not tested Diagnostic Ability: No Forecasting Walkability: No Calculates Economic ROI of Walkability Improvements: No Ability to Involve Community: Limited Cost: Free Support: Contact form on website 1 6
  19. 19. AARP Livability Index Urban design features and concepts measured: Housing, Neighborhood, Transportation. Environment, Health, Engagement, Opportunity (11) Scale of Urban Design: Macro Number of Data Points: 60 (11) Data Sources: First-hand data (collected by raters) Data Type: Objective/Reliable Who Collects: AARP Collection Time: N/A Accuracy: The AARP Livability Index is based on metrics chosen by their technical advisory committee and policy/research experts that they believe best measure the key aspects of livability. They also conducted an individual preference survey of more than 4,500 people ages 50 and older. However, scores are built at the neighborhood level and then aggregated up to the city, county, and state levels. Because those scores are based on averages for all neighborhoods within a particular geographic region, and larger areas contain a mix of good and bad neighborhoods, scores for higher levels of geography tend toward the middle, and the range of scores is more narrow. (12) 1 7
  20. 20. AARP Livability Index (cont.) Data Collection Method/Scoring: Data is gathered from publicly available sources made available by federal agencies or research institutions, and in some cases private sources. Metric values and policy points within each category are combined to create a category score. Those category scores are then averaged to create a location’s total livability score. A score from 0-100 is assigned. (11) Standardizable: Yes National/International Benchmarking Capacity: Communities are scored by comparing them to one another - the average community gets a score of 50, while above-average communities score higher and below-average communities score lower. Scores collected are publicly available for limited geographies. (12) Appropriate Geographic Areas: Various Diagnostic Ability: Yes 1 8
  21. 21. AARP Livability Index (cont.) Forecasting Walkability: No Calculates Economic ROI of Walkability Improvements: No Ability to Involve Community: No Cost: Free Support: Email help desk: livabilityindex@aarp.org 1 9
  22. 22. CDC's Healthier Worksite Initiative Walkability Audit Tool Urban design features and concepts measured: Pedestrian Facilities, Pedestrian Conflicts, Crosswalks, Maintenance, Path Size, Buffer, Universal Accessibility, Aesthetics, Shade (15) Scale of Urban Design: Micro Number of Data Points: 9 (15) Data Sources: First-hand data (collected by raters) Data Type: Subjective Who Collects: Anyone who wants to (15) Collection Time: About 10 minutes per block Accuracy: The Worksite Audit Tool is based on a walkability audit tool developed by the CDC's Dr. Andrew Dannenberg. The tool is primarily qualitative rather than quantitative in design, so some interrater variation in observations was expected, however repeat assessment of 20 walking route segments by three independent observers yielded similar scores. The audit is geared toward workplace walkability, so there is a decreased emphasis on children and on traffic speed and volume, and there is increased attention on walking comfort. (16) 2 0
  23. 23. CDC's Healthier Worksite Initiative Walkability Audit Tool (cont.) Diagnostic Ability: Yes Data Collection Method/Scoring: Data is gathered with paper/pencil by anyone who downloads the form on the website. The collector rates each of the nine walkability categories on a scale from 1-5, then adds up scores from the first three categories and multiplies it by 3 (to signify the most importance), adds up the next five categories and multiplies it by 2, and then adds up the remaining scores and multiples it by 1 (to signify the least importance). A score from 0-100 is assigned. (15) Standardizable: No National/International Benchmarking Capacity: As there is no training or auditing of data collection, it would be difficult to compare scores from various geographical areas. It is also geared toward workplace walkability, so not intended for assessing neighborhood walkability.(16) Scores are not publicly available. 2 1
  24. 24. CDC's Healthier Worksite Initiative Walkability Audit Tool (cont.) Appropriate Geographic Areas: Commercial areas Forecasting Walkability: No Calculates Economic ROI of Walkability Improvements: No Ability to Involve Community: Yes Cost: Free Support: Contact form on website 2 2
  25. 25. MAPS-Mini Survey Urban design features and concepts measured: Walk signals, Curb cuts, Crosswalks, Land uses, Number of parks, Number of bus stops, Street lights, Benches, Maintenance, Graffiti, Bike paths, Sidewalks, Barriers, Buffers, Shade (19) Scale of Urban Design: Macro & Micro Number of Data Points: 15 (19) Data Sources: First-hand data (collected by raters) Data Type: Objective/Reliable Who Collects: Anyone who wants to (17) Collection Time: About 15 minutes per block Accuracy: MAPS-Mini Survey is based on the 120 item parent survey called MAPS, which was found to demonstrate moderate to excellent reliability. (21) A study conducted by the CDC shows that the MAPS-Mini environment measure is short enough to be practical for use by community groups and planning agencies and is a valid substitute for the full version that is 8 times longer. MAPS- Mini total scores were linearly related to active transport in all age groups. (18) 2 3
  26. 26. MAPS-Mini Survey (cont.) Data Collection Method/Scoring: Data is gathered with paper/pencil by anyone who downloads the form on the website. The collector answers mostly yes/no or count questions about the intersection and street block. Each answer is assigned a point value between 0-2. The fifteen values are summed and then divided by 21 to create a percentage that represents how likely people are to walk for transportation on the street (e.g. There is a 65% likelihood that someone will choose walking as a mode of transportation on this street.). (18) Standardizable: Depends National/International Benchmarking Capacity: Because users may want to adapt MAPS-Mini by adding a small number of items specific to their region or interests, using the “percentage of possible maximum score” will allow rough comparability of scores across different versions. (18) Data is gathered by anyone with no training, but the questions are mostly quantitative in nature. Appropriate Geographic Areas: Various 2 4
  27. 27. MAPS-Mini Survey (cont.) Diagnostic Ability: Yes Forecasting Walkability: No Calculates Economic ROI of Walkability Improvements: No Ability to Involve Community: Yes Cost: Free Support: Contact form on website 2 5
  28. 28. Comparison - Data Comparison of the Number of Data Points (the count of data points collected for analysis) State of Place Walc InstituteWalking Audit Survey AARP Livability Index 2 6 MAPS-Mini Survey CDC's Worksite Initiative Walkability Audit Tool Walkanomics Walk Score
  29. 29. Comparison - Type/Scale Comparison of the Type and Scale of Features Measured (Subjective/Objective, Macro/Micro) State of Place 2 7 MAPS-Mini Survey Walc InstituteWalking Audit Survey CDC's Worksite Initiative Walkability Audit Tool AARP Livability Index Walkanomics Walk Score Objective Subjective Micro-scale Macro-scale
  30. 30. No Comparison - Reliability  Comparison of a tool's ability to standardize walkability analysis (Repeatable results are obtainable, Comprehensive analysis of why the street is walkable) State of Place 2 8 Walc InstituteWalking Audit Survey MAPS-Mini Survey CDC's Worksite Initiative Walkability Audit Tool AARP Livability Index Walkanomics Walk Score Standardizable DiagnosticAbility Yes No Yes
  31. 31. Comparison - Forecasting  Comparison of a tool's ability to forecast walkability State of Place  User can input multiple scenarios of proposed changes User inputs goals; Software generates recommendations User informs Walk Score of potential changes & Walk Score calculates new score 2 9 Walk Score $$ Software calculates new Index for each scenario Software calculates ROI of each scenario
  32. 32. Final Assessment Summary Guidance 3 0
  33. 33. Sources 1)    http://www.esri.com/news/arcuser/0112/modeling-walkability.html 2)    http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0013916504274016 3)    https://www.walkscore.com/methodology.shtml 4)    https://www.walkscore.com/professional/research.php 5)    https://www.walkscore.com/professional/pricing.php 6)    http://www.stateofplace.co/s/IMI21StateOfPlacePaperForm.pdf 7)    http://www.stateofplace.co/cities 8)    http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/8/11/4160/htm 9)    http://www.stateofplace.co/datageeks/ 10)  http://www.stateofplace.co/howitworks/ 11)  https://livabilityindex.aarp.org/how-are-livability-scores-determined 12)  https://livabilityindex.aarp.org/faqs 13)  http://www.walkonomics.com/index.php/research/19-supporting-research 14)  http://www.walkonomics.com/about 15)  https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/worksite-pa/pdf/walkability_audit_tool.pdf 16)  http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.589.5162&rep=rep1&type=pdf 17)  http://activelivingresearch.org/blog/2015/09/auditing-pedestrian-environment-brief-tool-         practitioners-community-members 18)  https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/15_0098.htm 19)  http://sallis.ucsd.edu/Documents/Measures_documents/MAPS_Mini_Tool_SegmentMethod_090815.pdf 20)  http://www.walklive.org/s/Walkability-Workbook_WALC-Institute_September-2012.pdf 21)  http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-13-403 22)  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265813515625641?         __hsfp=3853515266&__hstc=48159608.58e97e1b8ea3eb781303eba6faf19f5e.1489415191668.14908        39193785.1490902057419.37&__hssc=48159608.4.1490902057419&journalCode=epbb 23)  http://www.stateofplace.co/resources/publications/ 3 1
  34. 34. Contact us NAME: Mariela Alfonzo, Ph.D. - CEO/Founder PHONE: +1-305-528-2642 EMAIL: mariela@stateofplace.co WEBSITE: www.stateofplace.co 3 2

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